I’m writing this on my birthday, the day before it’s due to be posted. I’m 39. My dad said, last night, “They start to go quicker, don’t they?”
I responded, “Actually, this year’s been pretty eventful. I think that’s made it seem longer.”
But I’ve been at the age, for over twenty years now, that my birthday isn’t such a big deal. I’m enjoying this one, though. Beth made some fried halloumi for breakfast. I put some yoghurt in a couple of small bowls and made some tea. Even though it’s the ides of September, I can see a patch of blue in the sky, if I crane my neck.
.@bethmonahan Halloumi, yoghurt and insolvency. It’s a Greek-themed birthday!
— Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) September 15, 2013
For all that, I may be looking forward to Strokiversary more. I haven’t celebrated one of those before. Well, maybe one, but it was rubbish.
More on that next week, but today, the start of three posts leading up to the big day….
After I wrote last week’s post, Mrs. Stroke Bloke and I were getting ready for bed, and I felt compelled to write her a very short poem. I’m not inclined to reproduce it here (even with a nakedly confessional blog, it’s nice to have some things that are just ours), but the driving metaphor was invisible ink. It was intended to work on two levels, but I’ll just tell you the first.
Here it is: apoplectic.me works on two levels. Well, more than that. But for this purpose, the first is cumulatively to say “Hi!” to you, Dear Reader, bring you up to date, and maybe give you a laugh and something to think about. But secondly, every post is a love letter to Beth. Oft times, that won’t be obvious. Asthma attacks and Vini Reilly’s stroke aren’t the most obvious topics for such a dispatch. But Beth knows about this, and can read the message. Even though it’s written in invisible ink.
As I celebrate the last birthday of my thirties — still a little broken, but content — and gear up for Strokiversary, it seems like a good time to acknowledge the fact of the invisible ink that permeates each post. I mean, I’d like to shout the message from the rooftops, but I don’t think my doctor would sign off on the climbing and balance issues. This will have to do.
You may have noticed, as apoplectic.me becomes more eclectic (eclectic.me?) I’ve been thinking about what makes a good post for this audience. It often seems to be the more aslant posts that garner the most comments. Whereas the more love-y ones tend to scare off the apoplecterati. Is that strange? Sales figures would suggest that The Durutti Column aren’t “universal”. But love is, isn’t it? I’d imagine that, here in the first world, we all aspire to love and be loved. Either we’re in love, and think it’s the coolest thing, or love is absent from our lives, and we wish it wasn’t.
Certainly, there seems to be an insatiable appetite for the study of the anatomy of love. Anatomology? Have a look through your record collection. Even Billy Bragg’s best songs aren’t about politics.
And surely part of the reason for the success of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity was that, even though it was a fiction, the sentiment seemed real. It seemed like we were getting an insight into the workings of the mind of a reflective and occasionally thoughtful narrator (particularly when it came to the vagaries of love — and mixtapes). All the more so, because his thoughts often revealed him to be flawed. Perhaps the most striking review of the book (I’ve forgotten the exact words) was along the following lines:
“Buy this book for your girlfriend, so she can see how your mind works. Actually, don’t. It’s not going to reflect well on you.”
Alison MacLeod recently wrote in The Grauniad about Intimacy, Hanif Kureishi’s lightly fictionalised novella recounting the circumstances of the affair that led to him leaving his partner. Although his voice is far removed from Hornby’s, Intimacy similarly bears the stamp of truth because the narrator is willing to divulge the thoughts that reflect badly upon him. MacLeod recounts, “I didn’t read it when it first came out, because I was sure it would leave a very bad taste in my mouth.” That said, she states in the next sentence that she did lay her hands upon a copy and read it.
I suspect, because of a very human desire to know how others think. When I was a kid, I held a basic belief that, on some fundamental level, we’re all the same, and think along the same lines. Subsequent experience has debunked this assumption, but this only strengthens the desire to shave the other’s head, peel back the scalp, remove a piece of skull, and look at the brain. (Yep, you’re reading apoplectic.me.) So, I suppose there will still be pieces like this on apoplectic.me from time to time. I may not be Nick Hornby, I’m certainly not Hanif Kureishi, and I’m definitely not the Messiah. But I’ve got two holes in my skull. Feel free to have a look inside. In fact, for this week only, I’ve soaked this post in red cabbage water. My computer’s effed, but you can read the secret message. Tell someone you love them today. A partner. A parent. A son. A daughter. A friend. A pet. Love ya!